Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

119 – Red Night of the Soul (feat. Elisabeth Allie)

Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.
Art by David Wynne. Prints and cards available at the shop, or contact David to purchase the original.

In which Elisabeth hacks the Matrix; Magneto is the worst at small talk; Hela overreaches; parents just don’t understand human speech; everything is better with super-rings; Selene has a Xena moment; almost anything can be solved with a kiss; and even if you transform Doug Ramsey into a giant red murder monster, he’ll still be a huge nerd.


  • The S-Men
  • New Mutants Forever #1-5
  • Magma’s revised family tree
  • Updating the New Mutants
  • The delicate balance of the Forever line
  • The web
  • Idiom confusion
  • A flawed cultural analogy
  • Tiberius the Generic
  • Several profoundly dubious costumes
  • Family resemblance
  • Skull v. Skull
  • The dearth of canonically asexual X-characters

NEXT EPISODE: Different Nazis

Miles here – in one of the questions for this episode, I conflated asexuality and aromanticness. Those are totally two different things. Apologies – I’m still learning!

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  1. I’m having a problem where the podcast seems to stop around 41 minutes in. Listening to it via this website because also, for some reason, my podcast app, Podcast Republic, won’t even start playing it.

    1. The site’s getting hammered pretty hard right now from everyone downloading the new episode – it should start behaving better once the rush has passed a little.

      (Man, we just upgraded our hosting…)

  2. Whelp, time to brace ourselves for the influx of Brazilians (pardo and otherwise) to yell at us about Americans applying our ideas to their society and the skin colours they’ve seen.

    At least you didn’t make the mistake I once did and call him “indio,” which is a widely-used identity for (predominantly multi-generational) mixed-race people in the parts of the Caribbean that are the source of my area’s Hispanic population (not counting the people who never fill out surveys because they’re from repressive Central American regions in which the Spanish translation for “study/survey” most Americans go with is a euphemism for roundups of suspected dissidents) but is considered a slur against native American people elsewhere.

  3. While it is also not entirely spelled out I in many ways read Warlock as Asexual.

    Granted this is complicated by the fact that he is not an organic being and not bound by human desires, so perhaps he bends the rules.

    He gets very close with people (especially Doug Ramsey), but I don’t think its in any way a sexual attraction and more of a deep emotional bond.

    But again..complicated somewhat by his very nature.

    1. I think the heavy queer subtext between Doug (who might be asexual but isn’t aromantic) and Warlock (whose concept of romance would be fascinating to find out) makes them both very hard to categorise, especially when you add in that Warlock’s concept of gender also seems to be unaligned with a human equivalent (Warlock seems to accept being referred to as he without a qualm, but sometimes refers to Magus as “father” and sometimes as “siredam” suggesting something more fluid/unified in nature)

      And of course, the one time we ever DID see Doug have sex with _anyone_ it was and out-of-the-blue hook-up with Danger… a self-aware AI in a robot suit who (based solely on the physical appearance they have chosen to resemble) seemingly identifies as female. (Some have read the scene in such a way as to question whether Doug gave informed consent, but I’m not too sure about that)

      And THEN the comic series where that happened ended with Warlock and Danger having sex, whilst Doug (and a few others) stood and watched (I dunno, maybe Doug was waiting to be invited to join in)

      All New X-Factor was a weird (and very unfulfilling) series for Doug/Warlock fans.

      I should add of course, that none of this in any way invalidate anyone else’s reading of Doug and/or Warlock and their outlooks and preferences. As Miles said, if someone gets a different reading of them, then “Mazel tov!”

      1. I was thinking of Warlock and also Aaron “Machine Man” Stack and there could be a lot of examples along those lines, but those examples play into a very worrying dehumanizing of asexual people. I think Miles said it best – other than explicitly asexual characters like new Jughead (It will never stop being weird to me that I now take Jughead seriously), it’s mostly best to just let anyone make whatever inferences they’re personally comfortable with, rather than a fan-created unofficial list that really serves no purpose other than to exist as a list.

  4. I suspect that Al Rio, had slightly less reference than one might hope for, at least to start with.

    In the photo of the New Mutants Magneto shows in the Hellfire Club we not only see the team in the costumes that Magik wouldn’t actually create for them for another dozen pages or so but Roberto is completely off model. I suspect that Mr Rio was simply told that Sunspot was a black kid, and as such drew him with an afro, though by the time he had to draw him he had better reference material.

    Likewise Magik’s sword and Magma seeming to be flying in some panels in the fight in #1.

    I loved the idea of a South American Nazi enclave expressing interest in Nova Roma, there’s a really solid story there (especially if you consider the Hellfire Club has interests there too), but Amara’s absence of anything like agency on her home turf and Tiberius, less a plot-device, more of a plothole-device (I mean Amara eveb noted that he wasn’t Nova Romani since it was a small enough population that she knew EVERYONE her own age and didn’t know him), killed it stone dead.

    I also liked Selene having worshippers who were actually loyal to her, she was a sort-of goddess, but yes, it did come as something of a “Where did THEY come from?” moment.

    Berto wdesperately wanting to link with Warlock I put down to him not wanting to be outdone in terms of queer subtext by Doug, and Warlock refused him because it seemed too much like two-timing his selfsoulfriend… but I might be putting my own spin on that scene! 😉

    Doug and Lock are as fun together as always. I do wonder if the final shot of Doug’s blood cells was supposed to have a a couple of yellow, technorganic cells, hinting at what might be to come (Much like Doug’s transmode nightmare ending with indication he WAS infected with TO virus), and the colourist just didn’t get it, but that’s just speculation on my part.

    If you’re interested, I picked up a couple of the character model sheets from Mr Rio’s family when they put them on e-bay following his untimely passing in 2012.


  5. I don’t think I’ve ever read/watched anything set in Rio that wasn’t during Carnivale. It’s kind of sad really.

  6. I found New Mutants Forever pretty OK. There was some fun stuff in there. But I didn’t find it that great. It was probably the most enjoyable of the Forever series. I hated Claremont’s X-Men Forever.

    I appreciate your bold stance in regards to the suckiness of Nazis. Not shying away from controversy!

    I’ve seen speculation about Illyana being asexual. I think Illyana HAS TO BE a lesbian in terms of romance, but being asexual would probably work, in terms of sexuality.

    1. I’m beginning to think NMF is a series where everyone has some mixed feelings but different people come to different conclusions. If I read Miles and Elisabeth’s take on it correctly, they thought it had some problems, but overall liked it. You seem to think there were some good things, but it wasn’t so great. I’m going to go farther and say it had some good things but is absolutely a hot mess. Now, I think a big reason for this is that they were trying to fit too much into too little space. so much so that they actually had to cut some of the best remembered New Mutants out of the main plot. Also, the climax seemed like a [SPOILER]

      “oops, we’re out of time, I guess we’ll have this character that should really be out of commission at this point just show up and shoot the other bad guy just to end the story” thing. It feels a bit too Deus Ex Nazi to me. Of course, others may feel differently.

      I could go on, but there’s probably no point to my detailing everything I don’t like about it.

      But, yay Doubleclicks! 🙂

  7. Why do you think Jubilee and Magik are asexual? Jubilee had crushes on synch and Tim Drake from DC. If anything there is more evidence she likes girls than she is asexual. And Illyana expresses sexual desire a lot. Might just be more cultural with jubilee, some of my 1st generation Chinese American friends didn’t get bfs or lose their virginity until their mid 20s, and jubilee is just 17.(Maybe older she had beer in a recent book). Check out the dc/marvel crossovers from 96/97 for jubesXRobin otp

    1. Illyana expresses sexual desire, but it always feels oddly forced. Of all the Mutants, she talks about boys the most, and acts on that the least. I honestly think Illyana is an amazing exploration of a closeted lesbian.

      She’s different from everyone around her. She has thoughts and desires that are different, and which make her feel wicked. But she desperately wants to fit in, so she makes a strong effort to hide that part of herself from others, and to pretend to be someone else. The fact that the Christian fundamentalist and the hyper-masculine guy have the most negative feelings towards her, for the longest time, ties into that. Over time, as her friends get to know her better, and to care about her more, they not only accept who she is, they try to make her accept who she is, and to accept that she’s not wicked and evil.

      Illyana is a lesbian. The fact that she still hasn’t come out as gay is ridiculous to me, because it’s so obvious. When you read the original run of New Mutants, it could not be a more obvious metaphor for a closeted lesbian. I don’t even know if Claremont planned it that way, or if it just happened by accident, but it just works so well.

      With Jubilee, I’ve never really seen her as asexual. I would note that her having crushes doesn’t necessarily mean she can’t be asexual. Asexuals can, and do, still be interested in romantic partners. And, in fact, they can, and do, show interest in people who are sexy. I follow a couple of people on Twitter who are asexual, and they routinely make comments about people being hot.

      More stuff to note! Asexuality, much like sexuality in general, is not really a point on a chart or something. It’s a spectrum. There are asexuals who are sexually active, and who enjoy sex. There are asexuals who are grossed out by sex. There are asexuals who simply do not care one way or the other. And there are asexuals who still feel sexual attraction but don’t feel any real inclination to act on it.

      As with any discussion of human sexuality, the best descriptor is “it’s complicated.”

      1. Thanks for jumping on this–you covered pretty much everything I would have!!

        I’ll just add, Doesitreallymatter–we’re talking about characters and texts that have existed in a huge number of iterations over a very long time span. You have to cherry-pick for *any* kind of consistency; see, for instance, the arguments when Bobby Drake came out; or any given point of continuity conflict.

        What it comes down to for me is that there’s a lot of power in seeing yourself reflected meaningfully in works that matter–culturally, and to you personally–and lacking explicit representation, there is absolutely nothing wrong with reading what you need to see into a character. A lot of people claim Illyana as asexual. A lot of people claim her as bi. A lot of people claim her as gay. A lot of people claim her as sexual but aromantic.To take that reflection away from *anyone* because you can find a point of textual evidence against it seems to me to be both pretty pointless–again, these are characters who’ve been written wildly inconsistently over a very long period of time–and needlessly cruel in a landscape where the people in most desperate need of representation often have the least to turn to.

        And yes–it really matters. That it doesn’t to you doesn’t mean that you get to decide that it doesn’t for anyone else. That’s not how we work here.

        1. I feel like I should comment, because I am asexual. I understand that I am only one voice with one perspective, and that perspective isn’t necessarily shared by all asexuals, because like any other group, asexuality isn’t a monolith, but for me, one of the reasons I like Doug so much is because I connected with him a lot. At first, my asexuality didn’t really have a part in it, because when I first read, I didn’t really know I was asexual, nor did I read Doug as asexual, but as I got older, and recognized myself as asexual, I noticed a bit of that in Doug, and it was cool to see that in a comic character.

          On the other hand, asexuality, or at least, my experience with asexuality, is weird, in that it’s often hard to define yourself through the absence of something, in this case sexual attraction. I can’t speak for other underrepresented populations, but it seems to me based on what I’ve read from people in those groups, is that with them, seeing those characters represented has a lot more impact than my experience reading Doug (or other characters) as asexual. There’s a part of me that connects with Doug because I read him as asexual, but that part is honestly a lot smaller than the part of me that connects with him for all the other reasons, such as his love of science fiction, or his frequent feelings of powerlessness, or his bonds of close friendship, or a handful of other reasons.

          That being said, I again recognize that I cannot speak for all asexual people, nor am I saying that representation isn’t important. Additionally, I don’t know if there’d be a difference between a “read-as-asexual” character and a canonically asexual character, in terms of that reaction. I suspect it would partially depend on how much the comics go into asexuality, beyond the facile decision not to give the character a romantic partner or have them have sex (because, perhaps I’m too cynical, but I doubt they’d present an asexual character as alloromantic or willing to have sex for their partner’s benefit, and frankly, I’d just consider it a win if they made the asexual character have emotions and close platonic relationships because asexual characters are too often depicted as robots rather than people in media; but I digress). I don’t even know what would be the right way to broach an asexual character as, as I’ve said, it’s hard (at least for me) to define myself very much by my asexuality, so touching on it too much would seem odd, but touching on it not enough might make it seem facile or otherwise hollow.

          Anyway, I’m not sure what my point is, or if I even have a point, but something bugs me about not having a perspective of the group being talked about voiced in discussion.

          1. “but something bugs me about not having a perspective of the group being talked about voiced in discussion.”

            Thanks for adding yours – I really appreciate your sharing that perspective, and I promise to take it as Tholomyes’ thoughts, not The Asexual Perspective.

  8. I think this technically makes me a “well actually” person but I guess I’ll be the one to remind that there was also that attempted gang rape plot with Dani from the days when Magneto first took over the school, which seemed to exist for no other purpose than as an impetus for Magneto’s reaction to finally get the other kids to trust him. But I mean I feel like Mirage generally deals with a lot of disproportionate violence for someone without physical powers.

    I think those are the only explicit instances I remember in NM other than that time Empath actually raped people.

  9. Listening to the episode on the way home again, a couple of observations.

    Douglock went up against the Red Skull in the annual where he discovered that he was actually Warlock, just before the launch of the M-Tech Warlock title.

    Magneto using the “As my students might say” actually sort of works for me, since he always uses a slightly stilted speech and doesn’t really have that many other people to talk to casually (as has been noted a time or two, he’s a REALLY lonely man)

  10. I may have said this before, but having finally gotten a chance to listen to this episode, I want to say that Elisabeth Allie has a great voice. Really just the right timbre for radio/podcasting. It is always a pleasure when she guest hosts because of her insight, but her voice is a real pleasure, too.

  11. Just want to say Romans suck, too. Imagine a world with no diaspora and without Christianity becoming a state religion.

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